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The Alliance System and the Long Fuse In a recent New York Times Op-Ed column 101200 William Safire drew an analogy between Ariel Sharons visit to the Temple Mount and the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand In both of these instances the press and the general public have found a answer to the question of who started it In Sharons case the recent crisis in Israel and in the other World War I Safire was using these two seemingly non-related incidents to show how often people will place the blame on a specific incident rather than seeing the greater whole and how in many cases a single action rarely leads to a mass conflict With this in mind the question of who or what caused the First World War is now left unanswered The primary catalyst is Bismarcks ability to juggle with three balls and his successor Caprivis ability to only handle two this is Caprivis own explanation as to why the alliance system fell apart under him It was the alliance system more than anything else that took what should have been a local Austrian war and turned it into a world war The great powers involved themselves with what should have been an internal empire issue for the Austrians This meddling was what would throw the continent into war Emperor Wilhelm IIs dismissal of Bismarck in 1890 sealed the fate of the world Bismarck had been creating his Europe solely to ensure Germany would not have to fight a two front war He realized as did Karl Marx shortly after the Franco-Prussian War that If Alsace and Lorraine are taken then France will later on make war on Germany in conjunction with Russia Joll Bismarcks intention from the start was to isolate France when the inevitable conflict began He recognized that the French would be out to destroy Germany for the Franco-Prussian War and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine He sought to
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